Touken Ranbu ~Hiden Yui no Me no Hototogisu~ (spoiler free)

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Ever since that day when one of the website staff messed up and revealed the first visual for the new stage before it was even announced, I knew I had to see this stage. Mikazuki Munechika is not only one of my favourite swords, but Suzuki Hiroki’s Mikazuki in the stage is my favourite stage portrayal of any of the swords that I’ve seen. The last time I saw a Touken Ranbu stage live, I felt so blessed to be able to see his performance live and I was determined to be able to do it a second time.

Then when the cast was finally released, I was shocked to find Kawakami Shota, one of my top favourite stage actors was listed there. Having followed him since his debut performance in Tenimyu, seeing his name listed in the cast for such a big and popular production was an amazing moment. At the time of the announcement, I received several “RIP” comments in my direction from friends, and I knew I would be willing to fight to the death for tickets for the show.

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. I was lucky enough to have several entries for the first ticket lottery, and made the decision to apply for shows that I thought would be easier to hit for. Strangely enough, the results came out two hours before I was due to watch the musical version of Touken Ranbu in Osaka, and I was desperately hoping for the best so it didn’t ruin my day. The first two emails that came through were losses, and although I wasn’t hoping for much luck from the other two, miraculously both of them were hits on premium tickets. I had around 30 minutes of convincing myself I couldn’t afford to pay for both, before deciding the experience would be worth being poor for, and emptied my bank account.

I knew I was guaranteed pretty good seats with the combination of premium tickets and the first lottery, but even I was surprised when I finally downloaded my tickets from the ticket app and found they were 2nd and 5th row. Not only that, both were to the side of the theatre but both were on different sides, which gave me two completely different views of the stage. When I was sat there watching the stage, I actually got really emotional being able to see them so close and I really appreciated how good the guys all look in character and how well made their costumes are.

I’m so glad that out of all of the Touken Ranbu stages, this is the one that I managed to get two amazing tickets for. The stages are always quite an experience to watch, very dramatic and well performed but with this being the finale of the story they’ve been working towards since the beginning everything was stepped up. Less comedy, more angst and drama and betrayal, a wonderful villain, and it was packed full of perfectly choreographed fight scenes.

Without spoiling anything it’s hard to go too deeply into the plot, so all I will say is this: If you like your stages with a lot of laughs, then you probably won’t enjoy this one so much but if you’re like me and are into the series for the more serious moments, then I’m certain you will love it as much as I did. Everyone was flawless and the music was amazing as well.

 

Moving on to everyone’s individual performances…

Suzuki Hiroki (Mikazuki Munechika)

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Mikazuki wasn’t the first character I saw Hiroki play (the first time I saw him was as Komaeda Nagito in Super Dangan Ronpa 2) but like most people I had always really admired him as a performer. He wasn’t even the first Mikazuki I saw, but he quickly became a favourite the first time I saw one of the Touken Ranbu stages. His movement and gestures, and his voice in character were something that I just couldn’t help but want to keep watching. The first time I saw one of the stages live it felt like watching a god on stage. This second time was no exception. Mikazuki has a very hard journey through this stage and does some surprising and somewhat devastating things and throughout it all, Hiroki plays the story out so well that by the time the end came, I was hurting so badly.

Aramaki Yoshihiko (Yamanbagiri Kunihiro)

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Makki definitely gets the award for “most dedicated to TouStage”, having been in every single one of them. I’ve always loved Manba as a character but it took me until the previous stage to really appreciate Makki in character and as a performer and while I thought I’d seen everything I could from him, I was not expecting the true force of his performance this time round. Yamanbagiri is heavily involved in the climax of the stage and the final main scene has an amazing performance from both him and the other actor involved. I’m pretty certain I didn’t breathe for the entire scene.

Mitsuya Ryo (Honebami Toshirou)

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I’ve not exactly been quiet in the past about how little I like Mitsuya as an actor, but I appreciated Honebami as a character a lot more this time round compared to the last stage. I feel like they saved most of his development as a character for this one, and it’s played out quite clearly with an almost-repeated scene at the beginning and end of the story. There was a really touching scene between him and Mikazuki that really got me in the heart.

Shiina Taizo (Fudou Yukimitsu)

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I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Fudou goes through some major changes from his time in the first stage. Fudou is one of my favourite swords and although I was a little sad in the beginning not to see too much of his drunken ass stumbling around the stage but in the end I grew to love his more mature and sensible outlook on life. Towards the end, there was this part where he got doubts about having to hurt someone who he felt was the same as him, and it was nice to briefly see that slightly bratty, emotional Fudou from the first stage again.

Wada Masanari (Heshikiri Hasebe)

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I have to admit that Hasebe is not particularly high on my favourite list of swords and someone who I often forget exists especially when it comes to the stage. I don’t think it’s particularly Masanari’s fault but I generally don’t see any any fun, or any drama, or much of anything in his performance and so without choosing to be negative, I choose just to ignore him. Everything about me that had grown on me from the previous stage where he was given a lot more emotional reaction, kind of sunk back into this robot-like super loyal and boring figure I’d seen before that which was a shame.

Wada Takuma (Kasen Kanesada)

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Honestly, Kasen was about as much use in this stage as he was in the previous one, which isn’t really saying a lot. I honestly feel as though the likes of Wada Takuma deserves to do a whole lot more but has never quite been given the chance. But he has seemed to be very much a “comedy role” and that’s something he does wonderfully. He couldn’t enter a scene without coming on brushing down part of his outfit. He was part of one of the stage’s few comedic scenes close to the beginning and his reactions towards Shokudikiri during this time were spot on.

Kento (Tsurumaru Kuninaga)

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I really grew to appreciate Kento more as an actor after I watched him through almost the entire run of Rice on Stage back in April, and he really does make a beautiful Tsurumaru! I couldn’t help but watch him a lot especially during the fight scenes. He didn’t exactly do a lot in this stage, but Tsurumaru already had his “moment” in one of the previous stages, and in this stage I really loved how much they showed a great relationship between him and Shokudaikiri.

Higashi Keisuke (Shokudaikiri Mitsutada)

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One of my surprise favourites of the stage, and whose photoset I went out in the intermission to buy because I was so impressed with his performance in the first half. Without spoiling anything, we are treated to a very Hanamaru-esque comedic scene from him, which had me and everyone else in the audience laughing a lot. But after that when things began to get dark, he found out information he wished he hadn’t and had to deal with that alone without being able to tell anyone. After such fun from him earlier, it was heartbreaking to see his sad and worried face, and that wasn’t even the end of his troubles… His scene just before the intermission and how wonderfully he played it out was my reason for dropping money on him so quickly.

Kawakami Shota (Daihannya Nagamitsu)

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Given how beautiful he looks in character, I would have been quite happy even if all he had done was stand in the corner of the stage and do nothing. During their introduction lines right near the beginning he was directly in my line of sight, and I think my heart skipped a few beats. It’s hard to describe the pride of seeing your favourite actor in this kind of production, but it’s how I felt in that moment. Daihannya was a lot more gentle of a character than many I’ve seen him play in the past, and sometimes I barely recognised his voice when he was speaking. His role as a character was very much as a support to Honebami, and it was nice to see that kind of “big brotherly” figure on stage that I see him as in real life.

Maeyama Takahisa (Uguisumaru)

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I can’t say I really have much to say about him at all. I’m not sure what his character is supposed to be like but I didn’t really see anything interesting in him at all. His main role seemed to be to continually bully Ookanehira which was amusing at times but aside from that I don’t really remember what he actually did.

Kato Sho (Ookanehira)

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When I saw Ookanehira first come on the stage with all of his noisiness and super annoying ongoing voice, I totally understood why they chose Sho to play this role. They’re both as noisy as each other and he perfectly portrayed this guy who complains and talks endlessly but is very rarely listened to and dismissed as an idiot. After his performance in Tenimyu he had recently become my favourite of the cast there, and so I had been looking forward to seeing him in something else, and he didn’t disappoint. He was often a welcome light relief from all the drama and his relationship with Ugusuimaru was particularly amusing.

Tamaki Yuki (Kogarasumaru)

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I got a lot of Kogarasumaru’s badges when I was trying Touken Ranbu randoms and I was always so annoyed because he looked so creepy and gross, and now seeing him come alive on stage I realise that’s exactly what he is but that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tamaki Yuki had the creepiness down to an art, and I really love the way he moved so gracefully on stage and how often when he was standing still he would perch on one leg. He had amazing balance.

Usui Masahiro (no character name… yet.)

Out of all of the characters in the stage, I did not expect to fall for the one who cannot be named. One of the most frustrating things about watching this stage and not wanting to spoil anything is the exact same reason why this guy doesn’t have any goods in the stage, nor is he featured in-character anywhere including the pamphlet. Basically his entire existence in this story is a spoiler and for that reason all I can really say is that I loved him so much and I wish he did have goods so I could buy them all. His character was a very challenging one to play with a lot of development and he did it beautifully. I can’t wait for everyone to see it so everyone finally knows what I mean.

 

With that, I’ll wait for everyone else to be able to see this amazing stage so I can talk about it further without worrying about spoiling anyone.

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